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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.48 | 1627 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Quite the bewildering album. This was to mark the first PINK FLOYD album to be released on the Harvest label (other bands on the label included TRIUMVIRAT, ELOY, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, QUATERMASS, SHIRLEY & DOLLY COLLINS,The BATTERED ORNAMENTS, BAKERLOO, and even DEEP PURPLE. PINK FLOYD was of course, to be the most successful band on the Harvest label, but not until "Dark Side of the Moon".

"Ummagumma" is a peculiar double album set. The first disc is live material. The band performs entirely previously released material, like "Astronomy Domine", "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun", and "A Saucerful of Secrets". Without a doubt my favorite going to "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". The song starts off slow and atmospheric, then of course, Roger WATERS lets off his screams then they get in to a guitar jam before eventually fading back the way it started. All these songs are arranged differently or have things added on, making them not clones of the original. Plus they use a string organ here, rather than a Hammond organ like on the originals.

The second disc is basically to give each of the four members the big ego boost. First you have Richard WRIGHT's four piece "Sysyphus". Here he noodles around on his keyboards, such as organ, piano, and even Mellotron (yes PINK FLOYD used Mellotron, but only on this album, "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Atom Heart Mother"). Lot of it leans to the avant garde, and with a rather sinister atmosphere. It's hard to believe that just two years before there were psychedelic bands singing about "flowers and beads" and "canyons of your mind" (common thing for Central and Southern California bands of the time). Hearing this album, you'd think the '70s already arrived. Nothing remotely resembling the themes of California "pop psychedelia" can be found here! Then next, Roger WATERS gets his time to shine. First you have the acoustic, pastoral, ambient "Grantchester Meadows". It's a song that sounds like something is missing, like maybe more accompanyment. It's a pretty sparse sounding piece. Then there's "Several Small Creatures Gathered Together and Grooving With a Pict". Here you get a bunch of strange animal sounds, then you hear a Scotsman talking in the old Pictish language (which I don't know what that could be, you know right away you can't understand what he's saying, and it's pretty safe to say it's not Scots Gaelic either).

David GILMOUR piece is "The Narrow Way", and for him, it seems like he wanted the whole band to participate. It's a three piece movement which works best. First part is all acoustic, the second piece is a space rock piece. Here you are loaded with tons of electronic effects, effectively sounding like a precursor to many Krautrock bands that tended to the space rock spectrum, or even HAWKWIND for that matter! The third and final part of the song is the vocal part, sounding like classic PINK FLOYD (it could almost fit on "The Dark Side of the Moon"). Then the last part is Nick MASON's piece. Here he simply fiddles around with his drums and percussion. It often gets boring and tedious. This album is certainly bewildering, but it showed how the band was like before they were big huge rock stars, long before "The Wall", way before planetariums and night clubs across the United States decided to hold these "Pink Floyd with laser light" shows, this was PINK FLOYD doing what they wanted to at the risk of alienating their audience. Ummagumma is not for everyone, but recommended for the more adventurous.

Proghead | 4/5 |


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